Contact: Bob Weiner or Patricia Berg 301-283-0821/202-306-1200

FAILURE WRONG DIAGNOSIS IN WAR AGAINST CANCER, Say Congress and Medical Writers as American Cancer Research Convention Begins; Bob Weiner, Pat Berg oped in Washington Times

(Washington, DC) -- As 17,000 cancer scientists converge on Washington through Wednesday for the American Association for Cancer Research convention, “their frustration is clear,” assert Bob Weiner, former White House Drug Policy spokesman and former Chief of Staff of the House Aging Committee, and Professor Patricia Berg, director of a cancer laboratory at George Washington University Medical Center. “Mainstream media like the New York Times to books like The Politics of Cancer (and its sequel The Politics of Cancer Revisited) assert that we are ‘losing the winnable war against cancer’. Samuel Epstein, the books’ author, says it’s a “myth that there has been any dramatic progress.’ The Times uses negative headlines like ‘A Roller Coaster Chase for a Cure’, ‘Dashed Hopes’, and ‘Falling Short’.”

Weiner and Berg, in an oped in Monday's Washington Times, "Failure is the Wrong Diagnosis", contend that “progress is incontrovertible. The researchers who inhabit the benches of our laboratories seeking causes, cures, inhibitors, and diagnostic tools have in fact made enormous strides against the nation’s second leading killer. It is true that cancer still kills 560,000 Americans annually. Nearly one of two men and one of three women will be diagnosed with cancer. Breast cancer is the leading cause of death for American women between ages 40 and 55. However, the death rate from all cancers has been dropping 1% a year each year over the past two decades, and there has been a similar 1% annual decrease in the rate of new diagnoses, according to a Journal of the American Medical Association briefing at the National Press Club last month.”

Weiner and Berg add that Dr. Francis Collins, the Director of the National Institutes for Health, at the National Press Club talked about a “direct line from NIH research to the life span increases” that have expanded the average life from ending at 62 to 78 just in the last fifty years. Collins spoke of “the awe and wonder of what it means to be a scientist and to cure a disease or discover a gene.”

Weiner and Berg, who interviewed Collins, say he “is infuriated by those who claim there is failure in the nation’s efforts against cancer.” Collins told them, “We now have smart bombs” -- what he calls the genetic and pharmaceutical attacks against the disease. “The incidence of cancer is falling for the first time. Is that ‘failure’?” he rhetorically asked Weiner and Berg.

The authors continue, “The most dramatic indicators that the DC region sees of true progress are the breast cancer survivors who run or walk each year in the Komen Race for the Cure and the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. Last year 2000 breast cancer survivors walked with Avon, and Komen’s ‘Parade of Pink’ numbered 3000 survivors along with 45,000 participants. These are the daughters, mothers, granddaughters, as well as male survivors, who know the importance of research in extending their lives.